Break the drudgery of January! With fewer tourists, cheaper hotels and shorter queues, this time of year is perfect for a city getaway.
Here’s our pick of underrated cities if you’re looking for something a little different:
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
Why go? A small but buzzing capital city with a backdrop of snowy mountains and dazzling natural wonders (Glaciers, Geysers, and Volcanos).
Don’t miss: Reykjavik Shore Excursion is perfect if you’re short on time. The tour includes Hallgrimskirkja church, the presidential residence at Bessastadir, the fish market in Hafnarfjordur, and the open-air Arbaer Museum. Kids will love the Whales of Iceland exhibition in the harbour area, which feautures life size models of the 23 species of Whale found around Iceland’s coast.
Where to stay: Hotel Holt, one of Reykjavík's first hotels is full to the brim with paintings, drawings and sculptures (the largest private art collection in Iceland). It’s not cheap but there are bargains to be had at this time of year.
To eat: Local speciality, Hakarl – putrefied shark – is certainly a dish you will not have tried elsewhere! For foodies, February’s Food & Fun festival is not to be missed - a perfect introduction to the city and the special Reykjavik atmosphere.
2. Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Why go? Amsterdam might draw the crowds, but with its mix of iconic contemporary architecture, world class museums and buzzing nightlife Rotterdam has emerged as the must see second city of the Netherlands.
Don’t miss: Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, one of Europe’s finest collections of Dutch and Europen art. Highlights include Man in a Red Cap by Rembrandt, The Marriage Feast at Cana by Hieronymus Bosch and a whole room dedicated to Salvador Dali in the surrealist wing.
Where to stay: Stroom, a converted power station is now a sleek, contemporary design hotel in the Delfshaven harbour district. Prices start from €135 per night . For a great budget alternative, try Stayokay at Overblaak 85. Designed by Dutch architect Piet Bloom its quirky design has rooms of raised “cube houses” and it is a stone’s throw from the city’s major attractions.
What to eat: Try raw herring at the famous restaurant Wijn of Water in the old warehouse district of Lloydkade or taste traditional Dutch fare at Hiernaast overlooking the historic harbour. Don’t forget to order chips! Rotterdam is famous for its Frites and they’re usually served with a choice of sauces (including truffle mayo, pickles and curry, or peanut).
3. Leipzig, Germany
Why go? Described as ‘Little Paris’ thanks to its stunning buildings and rich cultural heritage, with 14 museums you won’t be short on things to see.
Don’t miss: For an insight into the terror of GDR regime, The Runde Ecke Museum is worth a visit. Housed in the former headquarters of the Stasi (East German secret police), its permanent exhibition 'Stasi – Power and Banality’ displays the propaganda, sinister surveillance devices and other chilling reminders of the oppressive regime.
Nature lovers should take a stroll through The Auenwald Forest, Leipzig’s beautiful city park. It’s brimming with native wildlife so keep an eye out for moose, bison, foxes, red deer, boars and several owl species.
Where to stay: For a special treat, try the 200-year-old Hotel Fürstenhof, a 5-Star Luxury Hotel in the heart of the city.
To eat: Try the Leipziger Lerche a local pastry filled with crushed almonds and cherries. For something savoury, head to the canal side haunt Stelzenhaus for their famous pork chops.
4. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Why go? One of Europe’s smallest capital cities, it’s full of friendly people, a buzzing atmosphere and a thriving restaurant scene.
Don’t miss: February's Dragon Carnival: combining parades and marching bands with pop up puppet theatres. Or take a craft beer tour with Ljubljananjam Foodwalks – a casual walking tour that weaves between tapas bars and secret beer haunts.
To eat: If you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t miss the kremna rezinas (traditional cream cakes). For ice-cream lovers, try one of the bewildering choice of flavours at Cacao (wild strawberry, raspberry pie and chocolate caramel fudge are among their huge choice!).
Where to stay: The Hostel Celica, a former prison that’s been converted by architects and artists is certainly worth a visit. Alternatively stay at the stylish Cubo Hotel is in the heart of the Centre district, its cool minimalist design is perfect for a relaxing weekend away.